The U.S. Department of Labor enters the Biden administration’s second calendar year with several vacancies in its leadership ranks and an intensifying confirmation battle over the pick to be the nation’s top wage-hour regulator.
Five members of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh‘s high command were confirmed last year, in addition to an independent inspector general, but seven Senate-confirmed positions remain vacant, including posts leading crucial enforcement agencies.
Nominations are pending in the Senate for all but one of those posts, raising the possibility that Walsh’s leadership team could be almost fully complete in coming months. But Senate confirmations are almost always a drawn-out affair, and prolonged delays could frustrate Walsh’s ability to execute on an agenda aimed at helping workers and boosting pandemic economic recovery, former agency officials and legal observers said. …
Cadre of Career Employees’
Paul DeCamp, a Wage and Hour administrator during the George W. Bush administration, said the agency’s day-to-day work doesn’t depend on a Senate-confirmed leader.
“In a lot of ways, most federal agencies can function just fine for an extended period of time without a political leader or at least without a confirmed political leader,” said DeCamp, now an attorney at Epstein Becker & Green, P.C. “The Wage and Hour Division has... a cadre of career employees in senior management roles, as well as more junior roles and field roles, that are perfectly capable of carrying out the day-to-day mission of the agency.”